History of 123 Pleasant Street [Morgantown, West Virginia]

History of 123 Pleasant Street [Morgantown, West Virginia]

reprinted from: http://www.123pleasantstreet.com/misc/history/4

Page 4: The Underground Railroad, the Dry House, and the Underground, 1982-1990 

In 1982, 123 (the stage room) and 125 (the upper room) became the home to a vibrant Morgantown music community with the opening of The Underground Railroad (URR), largely conceived and operated by the now-legendary (in Morgantown, at least) Marsha Ferber.

Marsha and a group of friends with a common interest in music and a distaste for the status quo of the early 1980s spawned the idea of a bar where music was the binding force bringing together all types of people in a peaceful atmosphere.

The Underground Railroad’s name came from her desire to have a place where people could “find their way to freedom,” by interacting and listening to music without regard to skin color, dress, sexuality, hair style, or ideas. Harriet Tubman, the heroine of the real Underground Railroad, was painted on the wall of 123 and came to symbolize the bar’s concept of basic equality among all people.

The bar reflected Marsha’s idealism, her politics, and her taste in music. To help things out, at nearly the same time U92 (the WVU student radio station) went on the air with an alternative format and began supporting local music, while the student newspaper, the DA, began to follow happenings and shows at the bar with interest. To complete the circle an independent record store on High Street called Backstreet Records began carrying local music in conjunction with stuff you couldn’t find anywhere else. Morgantown’s underground music scene was born.

The Underground Railroad specialized in music-inspired fun, with healthy doses of art and politics which emanated an energy that invigorated Morgantown. It was the Reagan years after all, and there was revolution in the air among those not of the conservative mind-set.

There had always been local bands and artists in Morgantown, but the arrival of a venue which supported them on a long-term basis inspired a flowering of original music, art, and nearly anything else people wanted to put on the stage or the walls. Moreover, beginning with a show by Bo Diddley in January 1985, nationally known bands started showing up on the URR stage at an ever-increasing rate. The Dry House, an all-ages venue, opened in the lower room in 1985. The Brick Row building was showing its age by this time, but it became a place that drew people back again and again.
[Note: During URR days the liquor bar was in the stage room. The upper room was turned into a vegetarian eatery (during the day) and bar area at night. The Blue Ribbon Restaurant, two doors up from 123 in what is now The Adventure’s Edge store, was a standard visit for Undergrounders after long nights of music.]

The Daily Athenaeum, April 24, 1986

In the spring of 1988, the pivotal Morgantown band Th’ Inbred broke up, and student favorites Shank Swing and the Divots called it quits also. Still, April of 1988 was like any other month at the Underground RR, with a bevy of bands playing. This changed on April 25, the day owner Marsha Ferber walked out of the bar and disappeared without a trace. She was never seen again. Marsha was reported missing but the police, her family, and her friends never turned up any substantial leads to her whereabouts either dead or alive. Like Elvis, one can still hear rumours of Marsha sightings from ex-Morgantownies around the world. The case is still open.

An article about Marsha’s Disappearance from the DA, 1988

“Duff’s Band List,” 1989

The employees kept the venue running for another year but it closed, along with The Dry House, seemingly for good, in late May of 1989, one year after Marsha’s disappearance. In January, 1990, the bar changed hands and reopened as “The Underground.” The Underground only lasted about 6 months, when the bar changed hands again.

New Zealand’s Axemen at WFMU New York (broadcast 24 November 2009)

Reprinted from: http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2009/11/new-zealands-axemen-at-wfmu.html

Downloads and Links:

Download Zip File of Live Audio Tracks

One of the big touring surprises for 2009 has to be the visit of New Zealand’s legendary Axemen to U.S. shores.

The band began in Christchurch in 1981 and stood somewhat aside of the pop path exhibited by much of the the Flying Nun label roster, but are without doubt one of the more fascinating Kiwi exports.

Various live shows and releases displayed a loose but virulent amalgamation of avant-garage, Half Japanese style sax primitivism, confusion, and general air of maladjusted greatness.

They’ve got two reissues “Big Cheap Motel” and “Scary!” out now on Siltbreeze, and are hitting the road coast to coast with Times New Viking.

– Brian Turner/WFMU (WFMU Playlist & Streaming Archive for BT’s show)

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Host: Brian Turner
Engineer: Jason Sigal with Alex Yockey
Released:November 24th, 2009

November 24, 2009

New Zealand’s Axemen at WFMU (MP3’s)

Axemenlive It’s a chore enough these days for any kind of overseas band to land a U.S. tour on any scale, so its was nothing less than a pleasant surprise when we learned that New Zealand’s Axemen had a pretty extensive one lined up with Columbus, Ohio’s Times New Viking this fall.

The Axemen started in Christchurch in 1981, a time when New Zealand and Flying Nun records in particular were stirring up a major musical waves (ones that were felt in countless 1990’s US indie bands and are still being felt today especially disciples like TNV), yet the sweeping, strummy pop element that was evident in many of the Nun’s stable was only a part of the fuzzy picture that was the Axemen.

The band’s central core of (Little) Stevie McCabe, Bob Brannigan, and Stu Kawowski recorded in both cheapo home mode and in traditional studios, but setting had little to do with the wide-swing of directions that are evident wherever you drop a needle (or cue up a tape).

There’s tons of basement weirdness nodding to the more antisocial Velvets and Swell Maps moments, scatterings of drunken White Album recreation attempts, even moments where they sound like Royal Trux way before their time.

When they played at Union Pool in Brooklyn last week I could swear they were going for a Stackwaddy/Doors thing, but then they became Half Japanese with Stevie playing sax solos on guitar. In Axemen recordings, they have one song about Elmer Fudd that sounds like Psychic TV, and another that is totally inspired by Grandmaster Flash. They even did a full album of Elton John songs. I have a feeling that if Flying Nun gave them the giant studio budget like they did Straitjacket Fits they would have come up with an album just as great as their Big Cheap Motel and Scary! Part III cassettes that Siltbreeze thankfully reissued in 2009.

Check out the clip below (and more after the jump) of the band on a 90’s NZ kids’ TV show (promoting their Peter Wang Pud album!), and dig in to their November 20th visit to my radio show, engineered by Jason Sigal and Alex Yockey.Thanks for Terre T for leaving us all the food the Reigning Sound didn’t eat earlier that day, there were some fancy pastries!

The Axemen Live at WFMU, Brian Turner’s show

Lineup: (Little) Stevie McCabe, Stu Kawowski, Bob Brannigan, Dragan Stojanovic

Promo video for Three Virgins LP (being reissued by Siltbreeze in 2010):

You cand find more on the Axemen’s My Space page and Y2K blog,the latter of which has updates on sometimes-member Mick Elborado’s recent exploits at his workplace; he recently drove his car through the lobby of his employers’ building, New Zealand’s equivalent of the IRS. No one was hurt, but New Zealand’s government might be learning a thing or two about satisfying employees’ gripes in the future.

Posted by Brian Turner on November 24, 2009 at 06:27 PM in Brian Turner’s Posts, MP3s, Music, Video Clips | Permalink

GIg Report – Philadelphia Nov 15 2009

Reprinted from: http://citypaper.net/blogs/criticalmass/2009/11/17/times-new-viking-the-axemen-the-mad-scene-nov-15-kung-fu-necktie/

posted by Brian Howard on Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 at 11:34 am

CONCERT REVIEW: Times New Viking, The Axemen, The Mad Scene @ Kung Fu Necktie, 11/15

This is our second set, like Phish.

Sunday night shows are always a tough sell, but the four-band bill including U.S. Girls (who we’ll be up front and cop to not getting to the club in time to see) was as can’t-miss a show for indie rockers of a certain age as you’ll find. A healthy crowd of 40 or so (in their 40s or so?) crammed into tiny Kung Fu Necktie and watched as New Zealand ex-pat/Clean vet Hamish Kilgour and Lisa Siegel led The Mad Scene through a set of murky Kiwi-style noise rockers rife with alternating strumming and distorted jabs. That’s the thing about New Zealand: even their poppier indie pop is prone, at any second, to spiral into fits of SY-style noise fests. Kilgour, who apparently had lost his guitar strap, spent the first few numbers seated on the floor at the side of the stage — largely invisible to all but the front row — with a microphone stand angled down toward him, creating a scenario where the vocals seemed to be emanating from nowhere. Siegel eventually lent the singer her bass strap and Kilgour finsihed the set standing erect.  Stu Kowowski of the legendary Axemen (who’d take the stage next), sat in on drums for the set and was joined by Adam Elliott, drummer for headliners Times New Viking, for a set-closing number where both drummers pounded on the kit.

Then came The Axemen, a New Zealand noise/punk outfit on their first tour of the U.S. despite first slithering from of the antipodean ooze in 1981 in protest of the South African rugby team’s tour of the islands. Led by an apparently intoxicated Steve McCabe, the four-piece chugged through a set of classics, including a few choice numbers from Scary! Pt. III (a 1989 cassette that’s been recently re-released on vinyl by Philly’s Siltbreeze). The band, rounded out by guitarist/singer Bob Brannigan and in this incarnation bassist Dragan Stojanovic (the band’s lineup aside from the three core members has been in constant flux), turned in a rough-around-the-edges set (thanks mostly to McCabe’s inspired/drunken flailing) that alternated between all-out chaos and more crafted blues-rock tigned numbers that created as many questions as it answered. What must it have been like to watch this unit over the years, and what were these grizzled vets like in their younger, angrier days? A newer song that might be titled “Do You Wanna Be My Slave,” suggests the band’s as ascerbic as ever.

Photo | Brian Howard
McCabe (left) and Brannigan of The Axemen.

Though The Axemen were indeed the rare treat that made this lineup a can’t-miss, Times New Viking was the main course. The Columbus-based trio have, since bursting on the scene with 2005’s Dig Yourself (which got the long-dormant Siltbreeze back in business) have honed a style that’s equal parts hooks cacophony, a slicing wail crossed with mistimed engine on overdrive. Keyboardist Beth Murphy’s vocals remain shouted and defiantly off key. Jared Phillips‘ guitar parts are piercing and devastating. Elliott’s drumming and singing are wound tight and delivered fast. They eschewed the typical set-encore structure for a two-set program that may have somehow crammed 30 songs into their hour on stage.  It was exhilirating, ear-spitting, and so life-affirming.

Man who drove into IRD pays third of damage

Reprinted from: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/3072295/Man-who-drove-into-IRD-pays-third-of-damage

David Jerrold Theobald will have to pay for less than a third of the $41,500 damage he caused in his ram-raid protest at the Christchurch offices of the Inland Revenue Department.

The 48-year-old remained disarmingly frank to the end, when he was sentenced by Judge Jane McMeeken in the Christchurch District Court today.

When she began sentencing him for driving his car through two sets of glass doors at the department’s offices, he corrected her, explaining that it was actually three sets.

“Don’t interrupt me,” said the judge.

She ordered him to do 300 hours of community work and imposed reparation totalling $13,000 to the owners of the building and the department. She also disqualified him from driving for nine months.

Theobald, who has now lost his job after working for the department for 25 years, had pleaded guilty to charges of reckless driving and intentional damage.

He is now a sickness beneficiary but hoped to get more work. His ram-raid in his car at 6.30am on a Saturday was a protest about his ongoing employment dispute with the department.

He will struggle to pay the reparations, even though he is single, has no children, and has been working for 25 years, because he has only about $1000 in assets.

He lives in a rental property and has no car.

“What have you spent your money on?” the judge wanted to know.

Theobald explained that he had been generous to people.

Defence counsel Simon Clay explained that there was a medical background to the case. Theobald’s actions had been a protest gesture. He had never been in trouble with the law, but had difficulties with his employer. He had checked to ensure there would be no-one in the offices when he made his protest.

Judge McMeeken said Theobald had believed for some reason that what had been happening gave him the right to damage property, but the building did not just belong to the department.

“You need to understand that it is one thing to protest, but it is quite another thing to deliberately, and intentionally, and wantonly destroy property especially when the property is not directly related to the organisation you had a gripe with.”

Ordering the reparation payment, she said: “The possibility of you making payment in full seems to me to be extremely remote, but you must realise there are consequences from your actions. You are going to have to budget wisely.”

IRD door smasher had ‘warned of terrorism’

Reprinted from: http://www.nzherald.co.nz

The man who drove his car through glass doors at the Inland Revenue Department building in Christchurch says he warned the department about terrorism but it had no security measures in place.

David Jerrold Theobald, 47, of St Albans, pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court today to charges of intentional damage and reckless driving.

He had worked at the Inland Revenue for 25 years and has said he had a long running employment dispute with the department.

In the summary of facts read to the court, Theobald told the police that he had warned the department about terrorism but they had no security measures there.

He drove his Mazda 626 through the foyer of the building in Cashel Street at 6.30am on a Saturday.

He crashed through two sets of glass doors and smashed a third.

Defence counsel Simon Clay asked Judge Stephen Erber to request a pre-sentence report for the November 17 sentencing.

Judge Erber ordered a reparation report and a pre-sentence report, and prohibited Theobald from driving while he was on bail.


Judge orders community work; $13,000 to repay

Reprinted from: http://www.stuff.co.nz

A disgruntled Inland Revenue employee who quit spectacularly by driving his car through the doors of the tax department’s Christchurch building has been handed a hefty sentence of community work and ordered to pay $13,000 in reparations.

David Theobald, 48, took his dissatisfaction with his employer of 25 years straight to the front counter at 6.30am on August 15.

He crept his Mazda 626 up to the Inland Revenue building on Cashel St and, after making sure no staff were present, slowly drove through three sets of plate-glass doors causing more than $40,000 in damage.

Theobald, a long-time Christchurch musician whose stage name is Mick Elborado, admitted the crime, quipping to police when they arrived: “It’s OK officer, I work here.”

Photos of his exploits quickly emerged on the website of his band, The Axemen, and a Mick Elborado is Innocent page was set up on Facebook.

Theobald pleaded guilty and yesterday was sentenced in the Christchurch District Court by Judge Jane McMeeken.

Defence lawyer Simon Clay said Theobald’s actions were in the nature of a protest, the culmination of a conflict at work that had lasted for some time.

There was a medical background to the offending, he said.

Theobald had checked there was no risk to any staff and smashed the windows early on a Saturday. He had been “disarmingly frank” with police, admitting his crime at the first opportunity.

The judge wanted to know why Theobald, a worker for 25 years, had no assets and no savings to make reparations.

He said he spent his money on drinks for friends and “being generous”.

The judge said Theobald deliberately drove through plate-glass doors. His actions were completely inappropriate. “It’s one thing to protest, it’s quite another thing to deliberately and wantonly destroy property.”

The building’s owner, Rapaki Property Group, sought reparation of $27,000; Inland Revenue sought $14,500. The judge sentenced Theobald to 300 hours community work. Reparations of $8000 to Rapaki and $5000 to Inland Revenue were ordered at $20 per week from Theobald’s sickness benefit.

Record Review: Axemen – Scary! Pt. III 2xLP (Siltbreeze/Sleekbott)

November 17, 2009

Axemen – Scary! Pt. III 2xLP (Siltbreeze/Sleekbott)

Axemen 2xLP
SCARY! pt 111 - Axemen

So the Axemen finally make it to the United States to tour, and one of the local weeklies lists them as “Axeman.”

Figures, right?

Nobody who’s in a position to know has influence enough to care. Tom Lax coulda bought a very decent used car with the ca$hola he’s sunken into this beyond-insane reissue program for New Zealand’s most divisive band – even so far as to have dug up two never-heard-‘em cassettes for the introductory offers, guaranteed to chase away even seasoned listeners.

Lifting up out of the muck that was Big Cheap Motel, this four-sider thankfully doesn’t give way to clarity, though some would claim it’d give birth to Blankdoggin’, as few of the ‘90s lo-fi oligarchy would have touched a synth or a sampler, let alone subjected them to the levels of abuse that Stevie McCabe offers up all over here.

Approximately 150 people will hear a serious Dirty Faces connection to the flotsam here; more will liken it to Royal Trux in their scum/disassociative phase, and that’s fine.

Here was – and is – a band that is continually in protest mode, against common sense if not a social or political cause … fuck, one of their auxiliary members drove his ride into the glass doors of the Kiwi tax office, and from all accounts, he’s free to walk on American soil as I write this. Does anyone in New Zealand want to swap places with me?

I’ve heard too many good things and am ready to throw away my life in the USA. This 1989 release is nothing but endless ur-jammin’ on some rudimentary melody, jive talkin’ monologue, screechin’ and sneerin’, occasionally stumbling onto a higher truth and really just content to slag off anyone that comes near it.

You don’t have to like it, or even respect it, because it was made to chase you and everybody else away. I respect that Lax puts out a pop record the likes of the Mantles or Eat Skull, but isn’t afraid to keep truckin’ in the weirdness like this charcoal nug. Still waiting on Three Virgins, and more eloquent thoughts from Wood Beez. (http://www.siltbreeze.com)
(Doug Mosurock)